Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April #IWSG: Taking Advantage of the A to Z Challenge

First Wed of Every MonthCome join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


April IWSG Day Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book?

Several years ago, I participated in two consecutive A to Z Challenges. Last year, I had prior commitments. This year, my swamped life threatens to drown me, so I am unable to join in the fun blogging experience. I did not do any marketing or networking to my knowledge, but my sales from my first book increased during those times.

During the second year of the challenge, my theme was my town of Hannibal, Missouri, located on the Mississippi River. Our town features the boyhood home of Mark Twain. Each day I highlighted a historic site with a photograph and a snippet of our town's history. And believe me, this place is chocked full of fun, ghostly legends. Don't forget all the many establishments celebrating the life of Mark Twain. My oldest son and I ran around town, snapping photos of everything from the Old Jail House, to the new Wax Museum, to the famous Mark Twain Cave and the lighthouse. All of these adventurous places stirred to life a fresh, new contemporary mystery.


As I was standing on Main Street yesterday, the clouds rolled in (as did the rain) and the tourists. Haunted Wagon rides are now departing daily, taking sight-seers to all the deliciously spooky spots in town, including the old Baptist Cemetery (featured in Tom Sawyer) and the vacant lot where the famous Amos J. Stillwell murder took place. The house was so haunted that eventually the city tore it down. A story has been sitting right in front of me for many years. Of course, I've changed the name of the town to protect the innocent.

You never know where an A to Z blogging challenge may lead, but take full advantage of the opportunity to gather story ideas for later and inspiration for your next book!

40 comments:

  1. You have some awesome posts. We learned a lot!

    Heather

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  2. It sounds like you have a creepy fun story waiting for you.

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  3. I remember following you that year, that's where I found you in the first place! :-)

    http://www.cdgallantking.ca/2017/04/things-are-looking-up-iwsg-april-2017.html

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  4. It's true. It totally could be the fodder you need. Research is the key to writing if you ask me.

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    1. Yes, it is! I've already planned my new MG book--an art mystery based off our town's museum and the famous paintings inside. I can't wait to get started!!

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    2. Yay! Awesomeness. I can't wait to hear the updates as you work!

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  6. Hi Jennifer, I remember reading your posts, it was fun. Too swamped with work to participate in this year's A to Z Challenge!

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  7. You did exactly what I did. I did two consecutive years and then last year and this year I skipped out on the Challenge. But who knows? I may do it next year.

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  8. I'm sorry to have missed your A-Z on Hannibal--I have been there but only for an afternoon. Twain is a favorite author and have been blessed to have been able to research and publish a bit about his time in Nevada.

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    1. How cool! That sounds amazing. Glad you got to visit. Stay much longer next time.

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  9. Your town sounds fantastic, and a great source of inspiration! My A-Z participation tends to require a couple of years recovery... maybe next year.

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  10. I remember your Hannibal theme.
    Cool you now have another great idea.

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  11. I love how your theme inspired you! Hannibal sounds like a fascinating town too. I lived in Springfield, MO for a bit (for college) and I wish I had traveled the state more while there.

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    1. Super cool! I've been there. Scenic hills down in that part of the state.

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  12. That is great that a story popped in from it. Goldmine right there and now you are aware.

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    1. I would like to be a fly on your wall. Especially when you're on the phone talking to strangers. Do you rhyme all the time?:-)

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  13. You're right about not knowing where the A-Z Challenge will take you. One year, I actually posted unpublished stories of mine - an anxiety-producing first for me! It all turned out wonderfully though. :)

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    1. Yes, I've read lots of those during my time doing the challenge. Lots of stress I'm sure.

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  14. The idea of the house being so haunted they tore it down sounds fascinating! That's great that your town gives you awesome inspiration for stories.

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    1. Dun, dun, dun. The plot thickens. My story is killer!

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  15. Great that it led you down a fun, creative path. I enjoyed your theme too!

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  16. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
    And yeah, I'm totally swamped this year too.

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  17. That is a good point. A to Z can help you find your next book!

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  18. Hi Jennifer good like with your haunted house story. I'm doing a light version of A to Z this year and limiting the number of blogs I visit.

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  19. We took a class trip to Hannibal back when I was in high school. I'll bet the town has changed a lot since then.

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  20. I remember those posts. Good times. And spooky stories based on real events are fun to read.

    E is for Experiment: Turning the USS Eldridge Invisible

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  21. Love the photos. It must have been fun gathering all those shots. Looking forward to your next A-Z challenge.

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  22. Great pitch for A to Z! Thank you. Even if you aren't directly marketing during A to Z, the increased presence making for higher visibility can help. Boosting SEO is one big plus in favor of doing A to Z.

    I remember your Hannibal series. That's one town that I'd like to revisit and spend more time in. Love the photo!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  23. The Linky List opens for the 2016 A to Z Challenge on Monday, January 24!

    If you’re still contemplating whether you will join us or not, let me give you some really good reasons why you should. There are benefits for those who make the effort.

    1 – It will stir your creativity. You have twenty-six posts to write for the month – what are you going to say? Will there be images? Will you have a theme? You’ll need to put on your thinking cap (not the one with the foil – that’s so aliens don’t read your mind) and come up with some entertaining or interesting posts.

    2 – It spurs research. You might have to search for some facts and figures. Your theme might involve history, a person, or a place. You’ll learn as you research for you posts. (Double bonus!) And if you are a writer or have something you need to research, what better way to kill two birds with one stone. (Triple bonus!)

    3 – It teaches discipline. You’ll have to post or schedule one for twenty-six days. That’s six times a week. If you’ve struggled to maintain a regular post schedule, this will get you in the habit. It will also discipline you to visit those who comment and seek out new blogs.

    4 – It forces you out of your comfort zone. Is posting almost daily for a month a challenge? You bet! You’ll have to stretch to reach the end. Your blog might be languishing in obscurity, but you’ll be prompted to visit new bloggers almost every day. Coming up with posts and/or a theme will also be tough. But you’ll reach the end and realize – you did it!

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